Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

When Nick Lowe sang this oldie in concert at the Powerstation recently (see review here), it's a fair bet many in the audience either didn't recognise it, or hadn't heard it in over four decades.

Lowe's treatment -- slow, less dramatic -- made the lyrics act as a neat counterpoint to his own bitter I Trained Her to Love Me. But in McDaniel's hands this song he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach is a very different thing.

McDaniels (who'd previously had a chart hit with 100lbs of Clay) offers a mixture of anger and vengance in the lyrics ("you'd be down on your knees, you'd be calling to meee") with that gulp of regret and self-loathing at his own weakness ("but a tower of strength is something ... [gulp] ... I'll never be").

This was about the last time anyone heard of McDaniels who quit the States after the assassination of Martin Luther King and went to Europe to live and be a songwriter. It worked, he wrote I Feel LIke Making Love (sung by Roberta Flack) which won a Grammy in the mid Seventies, but when he returned to the States he kept a very low profile and died in July 2011, aged 76.

However in the final decade of his quiet life he was much sampled and his powerful, political Compared to What of '69 threw a spotlight on another side of McDaniels. 

However Tower of Strength is a strange one with its drunken trombone and those great gulps.

Once heard .. [gulp] ... never forgotten? 


For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Broadcast: Chord Simple (2006)

Broadcast: Chord Simple (2006)

The British electronica band Broadcast were very big, in a quiet and inconspicuous way. And regrettably dogged by misfortune, if not tragedy. They formed in the mid 2000s, had a track on... > Read more

Romeo Void: Never Say Never (1982)

Romeo Void: Never Say Never (1982)

The British label Stiff Records (which gave the world Jona Lewie, Lena Lovich and Wreckless Eric alongside Elvis Costello and Ian Dury, among others) said everybody had one good single in them.... > Read more

New Elsewhere

Slim Ali and the Hodi Boys: 70s Soul!

Slim Ali and the Hodi Boys: 70s Soul!

This interesting collection proves that sometimes the frontman is the least of it. Here it is all about the band.  In the late Sixties, Slim Hodi from Mombassa adopted the soulful style... > Read more

20,000 DAYS  ON EARTH, a film by IAIN FORSYTH and JANE POLLARD (Madman DVD)

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH, a film by IAIN FORSYTH and JANE POLLARD (Madman DVD)

During a recent Q&A session after a screening of this film about him, Nick Cave mentioned in passing that a sequence involving Bad Seed/Dirty Three/Grinderman band member Warren Ellis wasn't... > Read more